5 Unique Watches With Tourbillons At Only Watch 2021
by Martin Green
That the tourbillon hasn’t lost any of its appeal in this new era of wristwatches becomes crystal clear at Only Watch 2021: several brands decided to donate watches with a tourbillon escapements, and that is great news for the fight against Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, the cause for which Only Watch was founded in 2005 by Luc Pettavino.
The mechanical ballet of the tourbillon remains mesmerizing and highly appreciated by watch connoisseurs. But it never comes cheap, meaning that donating a tourbillon watch is very likely to bring more money toward finding a cure for this terrible disease.
You can bid on all 53 of the unique watches featured in this biennial auction taking place on November 6, 2021 in Geneva. But let’s first look at five of the tourbillon timepieces featuring there.
Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Skelet-One Tourbillon Only Watch: stained-glass windows
Jaquet Droz enters Only Watch 2021 with a 41 mm watch with a highly artistic enamel dial that somehow reminds me of the 2011 movie Hugo directed by Marin Scorsese and starring Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, and a rather young Asa Butterfield. The story mainly concerns a little boy, Hugo (Butterfield), who lives in the Gare Montparnasse railway station in Paris. The film cleverly ties together the stories of the automatons of Jaquet Droz with the historical tale of French science fiction movie pioneer Georges Méliès.
With its plique-à-jour enameling technique, which secures the molten glass in “cells” that have no backing, the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Skelet-One Tourbillon Only Watch achieves the same translucency as a stained-glass window. Within each cell there is also a gradient, and the result is absolutely stunning.
All the more because the approach to the movement is rather technical: Jaquet Droz opted to skeletonize Caliber 2625SQ in a modern way, keeping a minimum of metal and giving the remaining components a black coating. Even the gold oscillating weight is stripped down so as to not interfere with the sensational unique enameling technique.
Accommodations are made to show the tourbillon in all its glory, where a keen observer will note the silicon balance spring and pallet fork. Together with the titanium tourbillon frame, they play a role in making this regulating device as precise as possible.
For more information, please visit www.onlywatch.com/jaquet-droz.
Quick Facts Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Skelet-One Tourbillon Only Watch
Case: 41 x 13.36 mm, red gold
Dial: plique-à-jour enamel
Movement: automatic Caliber JD 2625SQ with 60-second flying tourbillon, seven-day power reserve, 21,600 vph/3 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds
Limitation: one unique piece
Auction estimate: 160,000 – 200,000 Swiss francs
Moser & Cie Streamliner Cylindrical Tourbillon Only Watch: streamlining perfection
That the level of Only Watch submissions is high was already clear from previous editions, and it has only evolved more strongly into a platform for brands to go the extra mile over the years. As the H. Moser & Cie donation highlights with its Streamliner Cylindrical Tourbillon this year.
It is quite hard to put this timepiece into words as it combines so many different aspects of the brand in a single watch, creating a concept unlike any other. The smooth case and integrated bracelet look almost sculpted on the wrist, making the watch futuristic, yet simultaneously exuding an undeniable vintage charm, which in part probably also explains the success of this collection.
The dial seems like a black void thanks to the use of Vantablack, one of the darkest artificial substances in existence. This puts the focus on the one-minute flying tourbillon with its cylindrical hairspring, which sits opposite the small dial featuring the display of hours and minutes that is made of sapphire crystal and tilted 40 degrees, creating an incredible depth. The whole is protected from the outside world by a highly domed sapphire crystal.
If you talk about a watch with a character, this is the one. All the more because H. Moser & Cie didn’t stop there. I frequently speak about the water resistance of watches, and that is because it is one of the almost forgotten challenges of watchmaking. While new technology makes it easier to obtain better water resistance, getting there still requires time and resources. H. Moser & Cie could have easily gotten away with a 50-meter rating for the Streamliner Cylindrical Tourbillon but went the extra mile and made it 120 meters, something that I enthusiastically applaud.
For more information, please visit www.onlywatch.com/h-moser-cie.
Quick Facts H. Moser & Cie Streamliner Cylindrical Tourbillon Only Watch
Case: 40 mm, stainless steel with high domed sapphire crystal (case height without sapphire crystal 10 mm)
Movement: automatic Caliber HMC 810; 21,600 vph/3 Hz frequency; one-minute flying tourbillon with cylindrical hairspring; power reserve 72 hours
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: one unique piece
Auction estimate: 60,000 – 80,000 Swiss francs
Charles Girardier 1809 Tribute to Jackson Pollock: all about art
Quite different is the approach of Charles Girardier, who donated an 1809 model with a 41 mm case in pink gold. Those expecting a typical, classical tourbillon here will be quite mistaken as Charles Girardier makes art out of every aspect of this watch.
The timepiece is a tribute to the abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollock. The style of this influential American artist comes to life in the dial made by fusion enameling. This very complex technique results in vibrant colors with a lot of different shades. It goes very well with the classic style of the case and the Charles Girardier “Mysterious Signature” element at 12 o’clock, which moves along with the motion of the arm wearing the watch.
Its delicate gold lacework is balanced by the flying tourbillon placed opposite it at 6 o’clock. This regulating organ is part of Caliber CG 1809/6, which gets its winding power from a peripheral rotor. As a result, both the front and the back views of the tourbillon are never blocked.
As Charles Girardier pursues perfection, the brand even paid attention to the sound this rotor makes, reducing it to a minimum thanks to a unique ball-bearing construction. One would expect such a precious watch to be fitted with a strap from exotic leather, but instead Charles Girardier went for a special woven fabric that fits with the brand’s elegant French history. An unusual choice, yet very much in line with the look and feel of this watch.
For more information, please visit www.onlywatch.com/charles-girardier.
Quick Facts Charles Girardier 1809 Tribute to Jackson Pollock
Case: 41 x 12.2 mm, pink gold
Dial: high-fire “fusion enamel”
Movement: automatic Caliber CG1809 (Timeless manufacture) with one-minute flying tourbillon and peripheral rotor, 46-hour power reserve, 28,800 vph/4 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes; rotating disks with logo
Limitation: unique piece
Auction estimate: 75,000 – 90,000 Swiss francs
Zenith x Felipe Pantone Defy Double Tourbillon Felipe Pantone: the power of Pantone
The most colorful timepiece at Only Watch 2021 is without a doubt the Defy Double Tourbillon Zenith made in collaboration with contemporary artist Felipe Pantone. The dial shows a combination of patterns and colors thanks to the use of rainbow PVD coating.
The patterns and colors are quite sophisticated, and they must be as Zenith crafted the case of this unique Defy model from transparent sapphire crystal and the colors reflect in the bezel. Even the hands and hour markers get multicolor treatment thanks to a special rainbow varnish. This watch does a great job of capturing the nature of Pantone’s unique style in a functional object.
The mechanical side of the watch is also rather impressive: it is fitted with two tourbillons, one dedicated to timekeeping and the other to the chronograph function. The first runs at an impressive 36,000 vph/5 Hz, but the latter supplies even more visual spectacle as it makes its rounds at 50 Hz or 360,000 vph. This along with the unique use of the tourbillon is breathtaking to even the most seasoned watch connoisseur.
For more information, please visit www.onlywatch.com/zenith.
Quick Facts Zenith x Felipe Pantone Defy Double Tourbillon Felipe Pantone
Case: 46 x 14.5 mm, sapphire crystal
Movement: automatic Caliber El Primero 9020 with two independent tourbillons, one revolving at 5 Hz and one at 50 Hz, 5 Hz/36,000 vph and 50 Hz/360,000 vph frequencies, 50-hour and 50-minute power reserves, officially certified as a chronometer by Timelab
Functions: hours, minutes; chronograph showing seconds and minutes to 1/100th of a second; chronograph power reserve
Limitations: unique piece
Auction estimate: 180,000 – 220,000 Swiss francs
Konstantin Chaykin Martian Tourbillon Only Watch 2021: aiming for the stars
Russian independent watchmaker Konstantin Chaykin has made a watch that can come in handy if we ever need to (or want to) colonize Mars: the brand-new Martian Tourbillon Only Watch 2021 is fun but no joke.
Like everything Chaykin makes, this timepiece is also a display of refinement. Next to a very high level of finish and a charming case crafted in bulat steel, the watch is seriously made to be used on Mars, indicating Martian time and the date based on the Darian calendar developed by Thomas Gangale. Chaykin even went so far as to ensure that the tourbillon makes a full rotation every 61.65 seconds, indeed the exact time of one minute on Mars.
The watch is based on his very successful Joker Wristmon collection, infusing it with recognizable “DNA.” That Chaykin had a lot of fun developing this watch also becomes clear from the numbering system he invented to mark the 28 sols that make up a Martian month. He designed them specifically for this watch, making it a true piece unique, exactly what Only Watch is all about.
It also allows some lucky watch connoisseur to be ahead of the curve and wear the very first tourbillon timepiece made for Mars before humankind has ever even set foot on the planet.
For more information, please visit www.onlywatch.com/konstantin-chaykin.
Quick Facts Konstantin Chaykin Martian Tourbillon Only Watch 2021
Case: 40 x 13.4 mm, bulat steel
Movement: manually wound Caliber K.22-O with one-minute (Mars)/61.65 seconds (earth) tourbillon, 48-hour power reserve, 19,800 vph (Mars)/19,270 vph (earth) frequency, 326 components
Functions: hours, minutes; date, weekday, day/night indication (Mars time)
Limitation: one unique piece
Auction estimate: 40,000 – 60,000 Swiss francs